By: Clark Dowling
130 and 0 in MIAA matches, 10 straight championships, seventh in the country after the 2016-2017 season—no other team at Gilman can match the past success of the squash program. For years, the squash team has dominated the MIAA, winning endlessly under Coach Francis “Boo” Smith (‘70). However, after the 2016-2017 season, Coach Smith retired from his position of head coach. After a long search process, a new coach was chosen: Mr. Doug DeSmit. Coach DeSmit is a middle school gym teacher, as well as the previous coach of the middle school squash team.
Now, Coach DeSmit has to fill the shoes and continue the future success of the squash team, and he has one main goal to achieve this: teamwork. With a background in team sports, Coach DeSmit wants to “draw the team piece together” of the squash team. For him, the “most dynamic and exciting” moment in squash is to see “progression and potential reached,” and this can be achieved much more easily through teamwork. However, the Gilman squash team faces a new challenge this year. For the first time in decades, Gilman was the underdog to rival McDonogh. This changed the mentality of Coach DeSmit and his team, as he emphasizes that “the perception that [Gilman] has to be number one” will only hurt the team. The team needs to be able to “define success for themselves” and not have other people “dictate what [Gilman’s] success means.”
For Coach DeSmit and many players on the squash team, the 2017-2018 season is a year for reconstruction. After losing four seniors from varsity last year, the team is now focusing on the future. Despite varsity’s first ever MIAA loss this year, as well as falling short of the championship, the “future looks bright” for Gilman squash, in the words of Charlie East (‘19), the number one seed on varsity. Young talent on varsity, like Winston Park (‘21) and Ned Gildea (‘20), will also help the squash team grow in the future. To further ensure this future success, Gilman, according to Coach DeSmit, needs to create a “structured, competitive” environment that is “inviting to the up and coming squash players.”
The JV squash team, starring many underclassmen, “has played exceptionally well this year,” according to East. JV captain William Rice (‘20) led the team to an undefeated season, capped off by an MIAA championship title.
With their past success behind them and out of mind, Coach DeSmit and the Gilman squash team have their eyes on the future, looking forward to coming triumphs and developments to make a stronger team and stronger teammates.